Writing

Focus on Writing the Best Book You Can

It seems in the last few years, dialogue about all-things-publishing has been focused on platform, marketing, increasing output, distribution platforms, technology, and self-publishing.  But I think it’s important to call our attention back to the work.  In January 2014, I posted a prediction for the coming year: “I think authors will re-focus on the foundational…
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Create a Compelling Book Title

I’ve been coaching several of my clients through the process of coming up with a good title for their book, so I thought I’d share my tips with you. Let’s start by acknowledging a few things. The publisher is usually responsible for the final decision on title, and in the query stage, it’s not that…
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5 Things To Do Before Hiring a Freelance Editor

More writers are hiring editors these days, whether they’re going indie or just making sure the manuscript is polished before submitting to agents and publishers. If you’re a newer writer, unpublished, here are some things I think you should do before spending your hard-earned money on a freelance editor. (1) Get objective feedback. It’s best to have…
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That All-Important First Line

Let’s talk about the opening line of your book. The first thing to know about “first lines” is that they are not going to make or break you. Sure, it’s a lot of fun coming up with great ones. But as long as the first line makes someone want to read the second line, and…
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The Power of Negative Thinking

Thomas Edison, in talking about inventing, is quoted as saying, “the first step is an intuition—and comes with a burst—then difficulties arise.” To me this is similar to the bursts of inspiration and motivation we sometimes get when writing. The trouble is that the burst subsides and “difficulties arise.” Edison is famous and became successful…
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So Many Ideas, So Little Time

Are you the kind of writer who has several book ideas (or even written several books), possibly in different genres? If so, you may be wondering where to start. Which book should be the first one you write, or pitch to agents and editors? It’s a question worth asking, and you’d do well to put…
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Sometimes Drastic Measures are Required

I’m reading Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, and finding it fascinating. It’s a terrific read so if you’ve been on the fence, I recommend it! There’s an interesting tidbit about when Barack got a contract for his first book, Dreams from My Father. It was long before he entered public office, and at the time apparently he had a…
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8 Things To Do While You Wait

I heard a delightful interview with NY Times bestselling author Paula Brackston on the Grammar Girl podcast, in which she talked about the writing process and the life of a writer. “I was one of those overnight successes that takes about ten years. I’d been trying to get a novel published for a long time. I wrote short…
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What Does a Book Edit Look Like?

Whether you’re working with a traditional publisher or you’re self-publishing your book, the only way to ensure excellence in your final product is to put your work through a rigorous editorial process, consisting of more than one round of editing. Following are the three basic types of editing that your manuscript may go through. Every…
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Writing Craft: Foreshadowing

Today I thought I’d talk about an aspect of novel-writing that I don’t see addressed very often, even though I deal with it all the time when editing novels. It’s the technique of foreshadowing and its black-sheep cousin, telegraphing. Foreshadowing is when you purposely drop tiny hints about what’s going to happen later in the…
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The Writer’s Voice

Many people have asked about “voice” lately. It’s a big topic and I’m sure we’ll discuss it more than once. But let’s get started! What do we mean when we say we’re looking for “new voices”? What do editors mean when they say it’s the writer’s voice that captures them—or doesn’t? Let’s start by identifying…
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Let’s Talk About Writing, Publishing, and Coaching

  I was interviewed on the Lead Stories Podcast with Jo Saxton and Steph O’Brien. Listen in, if you’re interested! (It’s about 45 minutes.) We talked about: What I look for in someone I might represent as an agent What coaching looks like and why it is worth it How I redirect people who aren’t…
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A Time to Write…

Are you in a critique group? Do you regularly share your writing with a friend / writer / editor who gives you suggestions for changes and corrections? Are you frequently sharing pages of your work-in-progress (WIP) with someone else who copy edits you along the way? That is, making word changes and suggestions, correcting grammar…
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Write a Captivating Opening Line

The first thing to know about “first lines” is that they are not going to make or break you. Sure, it’s a lot of fun coming up with great ones. But in a novel of a hundred-thousand words, we have to keep those first twenty-or-so in perspective. As long as the first line makes someone…
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